A Beginner's Guide to Running
Disclaimer: I am not a professional; therefore, any information that I provide should not be taken as professional health advice but is my own personal opinion and from my own personal experiences. Please consult with your medical professional before you start running. Running is not for everyone.
Running--you either love it or hate it. You may hate it to begin with but eventually learn to love it. You may love it to begin with and eventually despise it. For me, I never hated it, but I have really learned to love it. Do I love every run? No way! There are runs that are awful, there are runs that are okay, and there are runs that actually feel good. However, there has never been a run that I regretted doing.
When I first started running, there were quite a few things I had to figure out myself and then there were things I learned from reading or from friends. Here are some tips to hopefully help you new runners through this learning process and get to know what works for you.
First and foremost, if you run, you're a runner
Many times, people will not consider themselves runners just because they can only run a mile or they stop to walk at times. This is far from the truth. If you're putting out the effort and building up your endurance as a runner, you're a runner, and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.
No cotton socks
If you haven't already heard this before, this is key for even beginning to run. Cotton is bad...for running anyways. You WILL get blisters. Cotton does not wick away sweat. I my opinion, wool is ideal, but acrylic is fine also. I love my Smartwool socks. If you're thinking wool sounds really hot to be running in in the summer, they make thin wool running socks. You are less likely to get blisters, and since wool is antimicrobial, you're feet will stink less. If you take anything away from this post, I hope that it is no cotton socks EVER!
No cotton shirts either
The same goes for shirts as it does socks. I started out running in cotton t-shirts (because I didn't know any better and it's what I had). I'm quite the sweater, so by the end of my run, my shirt was soaked and heavy. Not to mention, this did not feel good rubbing on my skin. Polyester is wonderful or even a polyester cotton blend is much better than 100% cotton. These shirts wick away moisture from the skin and dry quicker than cotton.
Go to a running store to purchase your first pair of running shoes
I started out running in some running shoes that I got at the local Nike outlet, which were pretty good shoes for the distance I was doing. When I decided to run my first marathon, I figured I should make sure I was wearing the right kind of shoe for my gait and my foot. I went to a local running store, and the guy there was able to watch how my feet moved when I walked and ran and was able to narrow down the type of shoe that was right for me. He also suggested some glute exercises that would help strengthen that area, since he could also tell those muscles were weaker by the way I ran.
You will get a wealth of information just from going to the running store and talking to the people who work there. You can get some great tips from them and guidance as to what shoe is right for you.
Be aware of your surroundings and stay safe
This is especially important for females. If you run alone, you should always be aware of your surroundings, because unfortunately there are people out there who may want to harm you or rob you. There are several ways to protect yourself. You can carry a gun if that is comfortable for you. I tried this, but it is just too much weight bouncing. I did get a belly band to hold my gun, which made it a little easier to carry. There are some pretty awesome tasers out there that are small and discreet making them easy to carry. It's probably a good idea to carry your cell phone as well.
I have a ring I can wear on my finger that can be used to stab someone if attacked. It is from Go Guarded, and you can find the link here. (See the pic to the right.) It is made of hard plastic but is sharp enough to really hurt someone if you were to punch someone trying to attack you.
It probably wouldn't hurt to take some self defense classes in case attacked. It is just really important to be aware of your surroundings and just use common sense about your safety.
If you are running outside, especially when it's dark, you have to take certain measures to keep yourself safe visually for traffic. To stay visible, there are reflective vests you can wear. When I say vests, there are actually ones that are just basically straps that go around your waist and over your shoulders, so you don't have the bulkiness of an actual vest as you see construction crews wearing. There are also an abundance of led light products out there. I actually found a vest that has lighted tubes that go over your shoulders and across your body that keeps you extremely visible when running in the dark. They make you look like a neon sign running down the road.
Change sides of the road
I used to walk on the left side of the road always to be walking against traffic. This is the safest place to walk or run if you're running on the road. However, this later caused me hip issues (I believe) from the slant of the road. Running on the same slant all of the time will really mess with how your body moves. Try running on the other side when available but be extra aware of traffic coming behind you if that is the case. It is much better to run against traffic if the traffic conditions are not safe for you to run with traffic. Use your own judgement on this.
Check the weather
I am trying to get out of the habit of checking with the weather to see if I will run today but am trying to check the weather to see how I will prepare to run today.
Knowing what you are up against before you get out there is very helpful to have a successful and enjoyable run. Knowledge of the wind conditions is crucial, because that could have the air feeling like it is 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature. The direction of the wind is important also in that you will need to know if you'll be running against or with the wind. Wind can make you feel like you're running uphill the entire time. Wind just sucks. If you want this challenge, great! Just be prepared for it both mentally and with the right amount of clothes to keep you warm.
It's also helpful to know what the road conditions are like in the winter. Black ice affects runners the same way it does drivers. It can be dangerous for both.
Knowing if there is a chance you may have a downpour of rain during your run is helpful as well. Sometimes it's a good thing when it's hot but other times, you may want to try to avoid it or dress appropriately.
Find some tips here on how to dress for running in the winter.
Find some running buddies
Running with someone has several advantages. If you have made plans to run with someone, you are more likely to keep those plan
s and not skip your run. It also makes the run go by quicker, since you'll have someone to talk to making time go by faster. It's also safer to run with someone else. You are less likely to be a target for an attacker, or if either of you gets injured, you have someone to help or get help. If the other person is faster, this can help you to push yourself to build up your speed if that's what you want.
Hydrate...but not too much
Hydrating is important during any run, but most important during the hot season or longer runs. You may have to do some experimenting with this as everyone is different. A good way to figure out if you're hydrating enough is to weigh yourself before and after you run. See if you have lost any weight after you run. This will be water weight. This will give you an idea of how much water you are losing while you run. Then adjust your consumption of water as needed. It's always best to carry water or drop water somewhere along your run if you plan to run longer than an hour (maybe less depending on how much you sweat or how hot it is).
Some people find themselves hydrating too much, because they think they need more water than they really do. It's probably a good idea to just sip water throughout your run rather than chug it once you really get thirsty. This will keep you from feeling bloated with water sloshing around in your stomach.
I have used hydration belts in the past and recently have changed over to a handheld water bottle if I'm running long just because I like holding the bottle better than I like having it on my waist. See what works for you.
Warm up and cool down
This will help keep you from hurting or injuring yourself. At least a 5 minute walk will help you warm up before a run. There are several ways to warm up before running, but to keep it simple, a brisk walk or a slow jog should be sufficient.
Cooling down is just as important. You don't want to be running hard and then just stop. This is when muscles can tense up causing cramping or you could get light headed from the sudden stop. Walk for a few minutes just as you did before you started running.
Stretching cold muscles is never a good idea unless you ease into it. However, stretching after a workout is crucial. You've just worked those muscles hard, so stretching them will keep them flexible and will reduce soreness. Other supplements to stretching are foam rolling and using a running stick to roll out muscles after a run. These both use the same concept of rubbing out the muscles. You can find YouTube videos that demonstrate how to use them.
Use food as fuel
The healthier you eat, the better you run. It's that simple. Just like a car, if you fuel your body with "high octane" foods, it will run better. Your muscles will also heal quicker if you have a healthy, balanced diet. Food fuels our bodies and helps give us the nutrients we need for our bodies to recover and heal.
Try to void injuries by listening to your body
This is so important yet so hard to do at times. You set goals for yourself expecting to reach them, but then something happens that sets you back. You pull a calf muscle or you get a shin splint. Many injuries can be avoided if we listen to our bodies. If you start to feel an ache or pain that does not feel normal, then stop. Our bodies give us these cues so that we have a warning that something is not right.
A lot of times, runners ignore these warnings, because they have a goal in mind or they just want to get that last mile in. And a lot of times they pay for it. It's okay to sit back and let your body heal, because if you don't, it could lead to more serious injuries.
Take it slow at first
It is advised to only increase mileage by 10% a week. For example, if you ran a total of 10 miles one week, then you should run no more than 11 total miles the following week. If you add too many miles every week trying to build up mileage, you greatly increase your risk of injury. Just take it slow and you'll be less likely to have to deal with setbacks caused by injury.
Practice good running form from the very beginning
Thank goodness I was into reading about this when I first started running, because if you start out with bad form, it will be harder to correct it later. Read up on correct running form. There's a wealth of knowledge out there on it. A few tips I can give would be to stand up straight while running and not lean forward or back. Make sure your shoulders stay over your hips. Also, do not strike with the heel of your foot. This puts a lot of pressure on your knees and hips. It's best to strike with your mid-foot to the ball of your foot so that the impact does not go straight back to your knees and hips.
Overall, you will learn a lot from your own running journey that others cannot teach you. These are just a few of the lessons I've learned throughout my journey. Seek out other advice and other tips to running. There is so much knowledge out there on running, so take advantage of what others have to share about their experiences.
Disclaimer: I use affiliate marketing, which means that I provide links to products that I make a small commission on when they are purchased through my links. Any information I provide about the products are my own personal opinion.
I am not a professional; therefore, any information that I provide should not be taken as professional health advice but is my own personal opinion and from my own personal experiences. Please consult with your medical professional before you start running. Running is not for everyone.